Two longtime friends and Montgomery County natives have made a big name for themselves on the Washington, D.C., dining scene. Now, the duo is bringing their business home.
Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman grew up in Gaithersburg, but said they felt really drawn to starting a business in Washington, D.C., as they were living there at the time and hoped to follow other similar fast-casual dining eateries like Sweetgreen and Cava, Rahman said.
The duo started Rasa, a fast-casual Indian restaurant, five years ago and it has spread like wildfire since its conception with two locations in D.C. and two more in Virginia.
The North Bethesda location is scheduled to open between March and April. The location will also be one of Rasa’s larger sites with 2,200 square feet and a large door, which was designed in and delivered from New Delhi. This location will also have bar seating, which is a first for Rasa locations.
“We’ve wanted to be in Montgomery County, specifically Rockville for a long time,” Rahman said. “Obviously it’s got such a cool homecoming feel to it, but we also just love Rockville geographically because you’re close to Bethesda, you’re close to Gaithersburg…It was just so centrally located on [Rockville Pike]. It’s very visible and you’re right at the nexus of so many things happening.”
The North Bethesda location is in Montrose Crossing shopping center between honeygrow Five Guys at the former site of Slapfish, at 12033 Rockville Pike.
The business was inspired by following in the footsteps of their fathers, who are also friends and owners of Bombay Bistro in Rockville.
“Our dads, 31 years ago, opened their first restaurant, Bombay Bistro in Rockville right off of West Montgomery Avenue,” Rahman said. “So quite literally, we grew up at our family restaurants. Being able to come back to Rockville is just really incredible – [a] full circle moment.”
According to Vinod, the most popular items on the eatery’s menu includes the Tikka Chance on Me bowl, which features chicken tikka, tomato garlic sauce, basmati rice, sauteed spinach, pickled radish, kachumber, pickled onions, toasted cumin yogurt and mint cilantro chutney. Another favorite is the Open Sesame, which features lamb kebab, peanut sesame sauce, basmati rice, charred eggplant, cucumber cubes, pickled onion, mint cilantro chutney and mango coconut yogurt. Customers also enjoy the Aloo Need is Love, which features sweet potato tikki, coconut ginger sauce, lemon turmeric rice, charred eggplant, pickled radish, tamarind ginger chutney, masala beets, cucumber cubes and lentils.
“We find that a lot of new customers, they tend to order some of our set bowl options on their first or second time and then as they get more familiar with the menu, they start to kind of build their own bowls as they go along,” Vinod said. “We have seven set bowl, which are kind of a good guide if it’s your first time here. Each set bowl [comes] with a different protein option and then over 80% of our menu is vegan as well so we cater to people of different backgrounds, diets, spice levels.”
Not only is the upcoming opening a way for the duo to return home and expand their business, but also to share their food with members of the community.
“[The overall goal] is to introduce people to Rasa, who we are, what it is we do, we want to share delicious Indian food that taste good and makes you feel good,” Rahman said. “We really want to connect with our community and use this restaurant as, hopefully, a launching pad to sharing our food with more folks around the area.”
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